The burial was a quiet one. Friends, family and neighbours were present and their church pastor. Ladi only stared into space throughout the ceremony. Her grief could be felt strongly. When it was over, everyone said a word of comfort to her and her brother. She only nodded; she cared less. She simply hated everything. Why did it have to be her parents? Poor innocent people, merely looking for their daily bread? Life is so cruel.
Immediately after the death of their parents, their extended family member took Ladi and Tobe in. They thought it best for them not to stay at home alone during the grieving period. They tried their best to cheer them on and make them forget the incident but they were just inconsolable. For Ladi, the death meant the end of her dreams.
Her parents had formed a habit of saving most of the money gotten from the farm produce sales for their children’s schooling. Mrs. Bello would not buy new wrappers but recycle the old ones, saying, “When you grow up and become successful, you will buy me many wrappers that I won’t even be able to finish wearing” this thought brought fresh tears to Ladi’s eyes and sadness into her heart.
The door opening jolted Ladi out of her thought. It was Tobe, rushing in carrying clothes he had washed earlier that morning. “Ladi, so you are in the house and you couldn’t help me bring in my clothes from the hanger? You want them drenched in the rain?” He repeated himself a second time and when he got no response from her, moved closer to see what was wrong with her. It was when he moved closer that he saw tears running down her cheeks. He forgot the wet clothes, dropped them on the floor and held his sister in his arms. He knew the cause of the tears, it isn’t as if he doesn’t miss his parents too, but he also realized that no amount of tears would bring them back. It is a sad reality and Tobe made up his mind to help his sister get over her grief and become the lively girl she had once been. Ladi just kept weeping and Tobe stoked her hair and tried to whisper comforting words to her.
Since the death of their parents, Ladi and Tobe had stayed with the Adamu’s. It had not been an easy transition. Umuleke village had been in the news for the past 3 weeks since the plane crash incident. Reporters had thronged the entire village. The plane company also came, asked questions and paid condolence visits to Ladi’s family. They also visited the Njoku family, they had a farm besides the Bellos. Their crops were also affected. It was a very unfortunate incident and all affected parties tried so hard to put it behind them.
Mr. Adamu is Ladi’s maternal uncle. He and his wife, tried to help Ladi and Tobe adjust to life without their parents. It had not been easy, but it is a task they determined to pull off. Gradually, Ladi came to terms with her parent’s death and decided to live again. The fourth week after the demise, Ladi and Tobe returned to school. Their school mates and teachers had been sympathetic the first week but everything returned back to normal the following week. Besides, they are not the first people to have lost a parent.
It wasn’t easy for them, their parents had saved up and ensured that their education was top priority, but with the Adamu’s, it was a different ball game. They had three children of their own and struggled to pay fees from the meager salaries they both earn as local council workers. Having Ladi and Tobe as extra mouth to feed just wasn’t easy on them. Ladi had just promoted into SSS II while Tobe was supposed to be writing the junior WAEC few months from then. The Adamu’s on the other hand had all their three children in primary school, the oldest being in primary six.
Ladi called Tobe aside one day after school and shared her plans with him. “Tobe, I know how our parents wanted us to be a medical doctor and an accountant. But death has done otherwise”. “I have thought about it and the situation of living. You know our uncle is really trying his best but it is still not easy. In view of this, I will step aside for you so that they can help train you to university level. I will go learn a trade and support. Then when I have saved enough, I will go back to school and finish up and become the medical doctor I have always wanted to be”.
“Noooooo!!!” screamed Tobe, “this cannot be happening. You are the smartest and deserve the opportunity. I am a man, let me find some work to do and I will help you through school” “I will support you until university and till you get married too”. “No Tobe, I insist” replied Ladi. “My mind is made up. I am the eldest and I have spoken. We will tell uncle our plans after dinner”. And she stood up and walked out of the room. She went to the back yard, into the garden and cried her heart out. It wasn’t an easy decision to take but she believed it was the best given the situation of things. “Papa, mama, I know you wanted to see us through school but the cold hands of death snatched you away from us. I promise to take care of my brother and to live the upright way you have always taught me. I will not let you down” she sobbed.
In the evening, when everyone had had dinner, Ladi excused her uncle and aunt to the veranda that she had something important to discuss with them. She insisted that Tobe stayed back with the younger children when he also wanted to follow them. She started by thanking them for accommodating her brother and herself and for being their new father and mother. She particularly thanked Mrs. Adamu for her patience and love. It really isn’t easy taking in two grown-ups into one’s house. She then went on to tell them of the decision she reached earlier in the day and how she thought it was the best under the circumstance.
Her uncle and his wife listened to her speak and couldn’t utter a word. They were shocked at her decision. Mr. Adamu felt it was his fault, if only he had studied harder and obtained a higher grade in the college of education; he would have been able to secure a better job in the city and would be able to take care of them all. Because, even a blind man could see they were struggling to take care of the home. He begged Ladi to rescind on her decision, that he was able to sort it out. Ladi only reminded him that he is yet to complete the fees for his children; it would be heartless to add theirs to it. Mrs. Adamu then stood up, hugged Ladi and promised her that she would return to school as soon as things got better. Ladi knelt and thanked them and went into the house. Her uncle felt really bad but he also knew that if things didn’t change for good, something drastic would have to be done to sustain the family.